Friendsurance is an online p2p insurance platform forging the way for people to get cash back from their insurance premiums. In this interview, co-founder and managing Director Tim Kunde explains how the collaborative platform enables cheaper and easier insurance options.
The easiest way to explain Friendsurance is …
Friendsurance is the pioneer of peer-to-peer insurance. As many insurance policy holders don’t like paying a lot of money for insurance they rarely use, we developed the so-called claims-free bonus which rewards you if no claims are submitted. It gives you some of the premiums back. Policy owners having similar insurance types form small groups, and a part of their premiums is paid into a cash-back pool. If no claims are submitted, the members of the group get some of their money at the end of the year. The claims-free bonus is available for not only new insurances bought on our platform, but also your existing insurances covering liability, home contents and legal expenses.
Where did the idea for Friendsurance come from?
Friendsurance was inspired by how insurance began originally, when people in small family or village community events came together to support each other in damage events. That was simple and efficient, but the extent of coverage was limited. Today big insurance companies can cover claims of all amounts. But administration, marketing and fraud inflate costs. According to the European insurance and reinsurance federation “Insurance European”, Europeans spend on average €1,843 for private insurance. But most insurance coverage is never, or only rarely, used. Insurers, however, don’t reward caution and fair play. That’s why we developed our claims-free bonus.
Why is now the right time for Freindsurance?
The insurance industry has not seen much innovation over the last decades. In contrast, Friendsurance uses opportunities brought about by digitalization.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what fueled you to start-up the platform.
I worked as consultant with The Boston Consulting Group for several years, advising insurance companies among others. The lack of innovation which I came across inspired me to build up a game changing start-up in the insurance sector.
How long did it take to build Friendsurance?
When we first started in 2010 it took us one year until the first partnership with an insurance company was in place. Five years later, we cooperate with approx. 60 insurance partners.
How did you come up with the Friendsurance name?
Friendsurance is a combination of friend and insurance. Originally the idea was to connect friends and family. But practice has shown that knowing each other in person is not crucial for our concept. Therefore we introduced automatic grouping as new service: New customers are connected automatically online with other policy owners with the same insurance type, e.g. home contents. However, customers who prefer to create their group individually can still have the possibility to do so.
What is your favorite success story so far?
For two consecutive years, more than 80% of the customers who took advantage of our claims-free bonus received a portion of their premiums back. In the property insurance line, the average cash back was 33% of the paid premiums.
The biggest challenge to overcome is…
To change the habits of the insurance industry.
In your opinion, what is the secret for success of Friendsurance?
Our secret for success is that we are very customer-focused – beginning with the determination of the target groups. User tests and product iteration are part of our daily routine. This ensures we consider customer needs and emotions in the product development.
What makes your company disruptive to other business models?
The peer-to-peer-insurance-model we launched in 2010 was completely unique. There is still nothing comparable in the German market yet.
A unique fact/statistic that surprises people about Friendsurance is…
We have employees from 13 different nations. We continually search for outstanding talent all over the world.
Friendsurance is different from traditional insurance players because…
We are the only one to reward back if there are no claims. This increases our customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.
What is your approach with regard to regulation? At what level & how are you interacting with policy makers?
Of course there are regulatory and actuarial challenges. But this is normal and simply something you have to overcome. What is crucial are long-breath and patience.
How have consumers responded to the business?
The response is positive and our customer base in continually increasing.
What would the team do differently next time?
My motto is: Don’t be afraid of mistakes, but make them as soon as possible. In the USA – the saying is to “fail fast”.
Apart from Friendsurance, what gets you out of bed in the mornings?
My one-year old son gets me out bed in the morning – usually a little bit too early for my liking.
What technology could you not live without every day and why?
Something I use every other day are car sharing apps. Living and working in the inner city of Berlin, renting a car via smartphone is a most convenient and flexible solution for me.
No. of team members at present: More than 50
No. of insurance companies presently co-operating with Friendsurance:
No. of platform users (‘friends’) at present: Good five-digit number of
Friendsurance currently available in: Germany